FloW

In the early 1980’ies, I attended summer school in Dallas, Texas. My uncle lived there and while going to school I also practiced martial arts. It was around this time that I was first introduced to the writings of the Japanese Zen Master and swordsman Takuan Sōhō.  
The writings still mean a lot to me and sum up the concept of being in a state of flow. I try to achieve a state of flow whenever I’m climbing a mountain, practicing martial arts, in a creative brainstorm or in business negotiations.

Master Takuan Sōhō wrote: 
“The mind must always be in the state of 'flowing,' for when it stops anywhere that means the flow is interrupted and it is this interruption that is injurious to the well-being of the mind. In the case of the swordsman, it means death. When the swordsman stands against his opponent, he is not to think of the opponent, nor of himself, nor of his enemy's sword movements. He just stands there with his sword which, forgetful of all technique, is ready only to follow the dictates of the subconscious. The man has effaced himself as the wielder of the sword. When he strikes, it is not the man but the sword in the hand of the man's subconscious that strikes.”

Around the same time, I stumbled upon the papers and writings of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. The Hungarian born, Chicago based, psychologist is considered the modern father of the theory of flow. Founded in positive psychology Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has a ‘to the point’ approach. His writings, and especially his first book, meant so much to me that when the first book was published in Danish, around 1990, I bought 15 copies and gave to most of my friends. 

A flow of consciousness occurs when you engulf yourself in activities that challenge you. When you are in flow you lose yourself, or more specifically you lose your self-awareness of what you do. Your mind directs all of its attention on the task at hand. You become engulfed, allowing yourself to become better at the activity in which you are engaged. 

The more you experience flow, the better you become at reaching the state of mind. 
It is the place you go to lose or find yourself.

Title:

Psychology and Philosophy

Text:

For many years, I was unable to see where my self-development journey would lead. I now feel that I have come full circle. I have been trough numerous methods of self-development and during the 90’ies I went through a journey within Buddhism which might have been a detour.
I tried all sorts of stuff and went on various retreats, but eventually I realized I was looking for an identity in Buddhism and within the possibilities that Buddhism offers.

More text:

I wouldn’t call myself a Buddhist, but I am still inspired by Buddhism. To me Buddhism isn’t a religion but more of a path, a toolbox and a state of mind. The Buddhists have been involved in understanding the human mind for more than 2500 years, so I reckon they have discovered a few things.

I have also returned to my earlier conviction that it is necessary to give up the thought-process, which played a big part in my quest for self-development. I feel my search should not be forced which it has been previously. I have reached the conclusion that the intellectual approach is not beneficial to me. It is important to go into the world and to be able to let go of the self-consciousness and ensure that it does not become a self-absorbed activity only focusing on oneself.

The subconscious needs time to process the information you have gathered. This is also one of the reasons I have been so fund fond of the Buddhist techniques in my creative line of work. The process of having a philosophic breakthrough is very similar to having a creative breakthrough. They are both characterized by the fact that at some point in the process you have to surrender yourself to the process. You have recognized that in order to attain your goal, the process cannot be forced – it is not possible to force the process. In Zen the expression is: “If you seek you cannot find it.”
Often if we don’t need to find a solution – it appears. This is also one of the reasons that throughout history, it has been believed that creativity was a divine inspiration. The really good ideas are typically located in the subconscious.

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